Kuro remembered once hearing someone describe Zelretch as an unwilling god. That is to say, God with all his infinite power and infinite knowledge, but without the infinite will.
Zelretch was definitely one of the most powerful being in existence. Through the second True Magic, he could access an unlimited amount of raw power, could bend the laws of space and time, and possessed the shared knowledge discovered by all of his parallel universe selves over his thousands of years of life. He was pretty much as close as you could get to omnipowerful and omnipotent. He had the kind of power and knowledge that could let a guy do anything and everything he wanted… except that he couldn't.
Zelretch was bound by the nature of his being.
He was one of the Apostle Ancestors turned by the Crimson Moon itself for one reason and one reason only, to subjugate humanity. Which was a problem, because he actually kind of like the humans. He found their ability to do whatever it was that they desired and choose the purpose of their own existence to be fascinating. Which was why Zelretch had always wanted to help keep humanity alive so that he could continue to observe them.
However, this went against the purpose of his existence. The Ancestor could only act in a way that subjugated humanity. He had troubled over this fact for years, unable to help the humans who he so enjoyed watching, until one day he finally realized a solution.
Just help people in a way that harmlessly subjugates them.
By performing acts that humiliated, put down, or endanger the humans, he could do things that ultimately helped them. It was through this round-about logic that Zelretch saved the lives of millions of people… and also made them flinch whenever they heard his name. It actually amused him so much that he started to study cultural trends in order to better deliver his 'assistance' to the people.
Zelretch was super chaotic good. He will turn your car into a giant pink dildo so you don't drink and drive and die in a car accident.
Kuro had to remind herself of this as she took stock of her situation.
Providing her with the Shroud of Martin was an incredible boon. Its defensive capabilities put anything that modern science had managed to create thus far to shame, but at the same time…
'Pride has no place on the battlefield.' Kuro had to remind herself, trying her best not to imagine what she must look like.
The Wizard Marshal had changed the Holy Saint's Shroud into something that by all rights should have been illegal. The black strips of clothing around her chest barely covered as much as what one would expect to see in a bikini top, leaving her entire midriff and the Sekirei mark on it exposed, and the tight black leggings were cut short and had large rips on the inside of her thighs. The only thing that was properly covered were her arms for which the tight long sleeves reached down to her wrist in a similar way to the way Archer had worn it, only with pieces of the cloth left loose behind her like a torn-up cape. Finally, a belt which had its own piece of the Shroud attached to it in such a way as to cover the tops of her legs in the same way a knight's leggings would.
All in all, she probably looked like a tiny female Archer, something that sickened him… her… whatever. The most disturbing part was how snugly it had fit her. How that old bastard knew her body's shape so well, Kuro didn't know and didn't want to know.
The problem was, as bad as the outfit looked, he was still highly functional from a combat stand point. Complete freedom of movement, and a good deal of protection for her arms and legs, which would always be at the most risk in combat. Realistically, any place that wasn't covered by the Shroud might as well be nude from a defensive stand point. Normal clothes, even reinforced, would not stop much in the fights that she was likely to be a part of.
It's just… a bit more coverage would have been appreciated. She thanked her lucky stars it was summer because this outfit wasn't going to keep anyone warm.
Hayato, his chosen eight Sekirei, and his butler, were all crammed together into his limo. While Alfred drove, and Mutsu sat shotgun, the rest of them were left in the back, eight people to six seats. The twins and Akitsu squeezed together, three people in two seats, with the twins on either side of the ice Sekirei, and Kuro was made to sit in Kuruse's lap.
Kuro would like to believe that Kuruse was so tense because she was nerves about being in the crowded car, or because they would likely soon be going to battle, but even she couldn't be that willfully dense. Kuruse loved her. Of course she did, her nature compelled her too. Kuro knew enough about Sekirei to be able to say that with almost one hundred percent certainty, and Kuro wasn't sure how to react to that. Kuruse wasn't human, and as such her emotional needs were different.
She fundamentally understood that, but it still seemed wrong. Loving someone not because of one's memories of the person or any level of cognitive admiration, but simply due to a physical impulse. If just didn't feel like that should be what love was supposed to be about, and according to the twins, following their biological instincts sometimes got nasty for the Sekirei. The Sekirei's understanding of love was simply different than that of humans, closer to the thoughts of an animal that just desired to hump everything that they conceivably could rather than the emotions of a highly intelligent being. Though at the same time, to reject what Kuruse was feeling would be the height of cruelty.
Sekirei who had been winged desire nothing more than to make their Ashikabi happy, and to prevent them from doing this caused them horrible emotional torment.
"Do you sense any Sekirei nearby?" Hayato asked Kuro after they have driven for a little while, speaking a little louder than normal since the windows were down in order to let Kuro find the 'scent'.
"Yes." Kuro admitted. The Sekirei were easy to track. They didn't hide themselves like Magus or Servants did. Everywhere they went they left behind a trail of their Od, and the Od was more often than not very distinct. "There are six of them nearby. Two of them are weapon types, daggers and staff. The other four are elemental ability types." Kuro said before taking a deeper breath, trying to parse out the different elements. "One of them is some kind of wind-type, though its pretty faint, sound or smell perhaps. The other three are water, fire and… entropy."
"Entropy? What's that?" Himeko asked, being unfamiliar with the word.
"Entropy is the measurement of disorder. It represents how all matter in the universe tends towards its more chaotic stat. It is also sometimes used to mean decay or death." Hayato explained to his confused Sekirei. A smile was spreading over his face, and it looked as if there were stars in his eyes. A Sekirei who could cause decay sounded really cool.
"Fire huh. It's probably that guy again." Mitsuki grumbled, her head falling down onto Akitsu's shoulder.
"He always does seem to just be there whenever we find a new Sekirei. So annoying." Mitsuha agreed, mirroring her sister's action. If there was one benefit to their new outfits, it was that they had slightly different headbands, making it possible to tell them apart.
Hayato ignored the commentary about the fire user. "Can you tell what their relative strengths are like? Which do you think we should go after?"
Kuro closed her eyes and focused. "The two weapon and the sound user don't seem very strong. Fighting them would be the safer bet. The other three are much stronger. The fire user and the Sekirei that smell of entropy are pretty close together. Not close enough to be in a group, but the moment you start fighting one, the other will definitely notice. As for the water user, I think it is best to avoid them."
"And why is that?" Hayato asked, wanting as much information as he could get before they moved. Kuro was already proving his worth to him.
"While Akitsu and Taki both have water-based abilities, this Sekirei's abilities are a lot more pure than theirs. It might be that they can control water in all states rather than just ice and mist, and in range combat, Himeko would be at a disadvantage." Kuro explained.
"So, you are saying that they could act as a hard counter to the forces that I have brought with me today, save for Mutsu and Kuruse." Hayato said, getting what Kuro was suggesting.
"Maybe, maybe not. Better not to risk it if it isn't necessary." Kuro said.
"The Decay Sekirei it is then. If he is who I think he is, he will try to interfere when we attempt to wing the other one. When he does that, we can get them both. Alfred, pull over somewhere." Hayato called forward to the butler.
"Of course, sir." Alfred said, getting off the main road before slipping into a back alley behind a large condo complex, hidden from the street.
"We will move along the rooftops. Once we find them, Taki will create a thick mist to hide what is going on from the civilians and we will shepherd them into a place where we can better control the encounter. Understood?" Hayato told them as they all got out of the limo.
"Yes." All of the Sekirei save for Kuruse said. The trident wielding Sekirei gave Kuro a worrying look before slowly nodding, but still didn't vocalize her confirmation.
"Alright then, lets move." The boy Ashikabi said, a bit of cheer and excitement in his voice as he was picked up by Mutsu. The entire group then jumped, rising six stories up into the air and lighting down on the rooftop of the condo building. All save for Kuro.
Kuro watched the impressive feat of physical strength and immediately knew that she wouldn't be able to match it. So instead she went to a corner where the build bent around a common back yard shared by the occupants and did a wall jump. It took three jumps for her to make it up to the roof. It was still an inhuman display of strength but falling short when compared to the others. When she got there, she found the others waiting for her.
"Sorry. I'm not as strong as the rest of you." Kuro admitted. While she could keep up with any of them in a fight due to a difference in skill and how diverse her weaponry and tactics were, when it came to raw physical power, her body was still lacking muscle mass.
"I didn't realize the difference outside of combat would be that great as well." Hayato said with a frown. "I suppose you will just have to be carried as well."
Kuro had to admit he was right. If she didn't want to drag the rest of them back, then she would have to get Kuruse to carry her. After the honey blond girl obligingly picked her up, Hayato asked for directions to their target and they were off, Kuro only slightly embarrassed by being carried like a princess by a girl who was dressed as a knight.
She wondered if this was how Rin had felt with Archer.
"Thanks for the ride. I'll call you once I'm done." Karasuba said as she jumped out of the convertible rather than opening the door, landing right in front of the open archway for the Izumo Inn. She left her sword behind in the car. She wouldn't need it, and it would only cause problems if she ran into the old widow anyways.
"Do you really not want me to follow you?" Natsuo asked the silver haired woman. He was her Ashikabi now, so she would need him present if she wanted to use her full strength.
"Don't worry. I just came to talk to her for today. There won't be any fighting." Karasuba said seeming actually a little bit happy, and not in the about to kill someone way. She had a real gentle smile on her face. It was amazing the kind of difference it made in her appearance, changing her from terrifying to actually quite beautiful. "I wonder how Muu-chan has been doing. She's always been a bit of a scatter…"
Before she was even done speaking, and out of control hose from inside of the yard sprayed water all over the MBI's dog, soaking her clothes through. "Oops, I'm sorry!" A brown-haired girl dressed in a shrine maiden outfit said as she regained control over the hose.
Natsuo paled and quickly pressed down on the gas, putting some distance between himself and what he believed to be a bomb about to go off. Though if he would have just stayed for another few seconds he would have heard the normally scary chuckle of Karasuba sounding much more genuine. "So you are still a scatterbrain. Huh, Muu-chan."
The shrine maiden girl's eyes widened, not an uncommon response for people who just ran into Karasuba, but almost uniquely, she gave a squeal of joy instead of terror and jumped forward to give the Kuro Sekirei a hug.
Rin didn't know what time it was. Her workshop didn't have any windows and she never installed any clocks. Didn't really matter. She rarely ever left her workshop anymore. She worked nearly all the time, and when she was too tired to continue, she would sleep until she woke up and got back to work again. Morning, evening, night, didn't matter. Her sleep schedule had become none existent.
She was trying to find a way to create a more powerful bounded field and attaching it to a item, in the same way that Avalon had existed as a portable bounded field attached to Excalibur's scabbard.
Bounded fields, while powerful and flexible tools, had always suffered due to the fact that they were always anchored down to a fixed location. The only notable acceptations were a few Noble Phantasms like Avalon and Reality Marbles, both of which next to impossible to obtain or use.
"Failure number 247." Rin said with a sigh, brushing aside the stone she had spent the last few days engraving her formulacraft into. She would need to start again. She had been working on this same project for the last eleven years. Ever since the world started to go to hell. Ever since she finally accepted that Shirou was really not coming back.
She had never wanted to believe it. Maybe she had always thought that Shirou was just too stubborn to die. Maybe she didn't want to believe that someone who's life seemed to be filled with such meaning could simply disappear, and have the world continue to spin in his absence.
She had told everyone that Shirou was still out there. That he was just in hiding and that when the time came, and something happened, he wouldn't be able to help himself but than to jump out and try to save the day like the idiot hero they all knew he was.
She had kept telling herself that up until something real did happen. All around the world, the dead apostles began to become more and more active, wiping out city after city, unusual weather patterns started to occur all over the globe. Emergency after emergency happened and thousands of people died, and yet still, there was no Shirou. That was what hammered it in for her, that Shirou was really gone.
Rin went into a depression, not finding the motivation to do anything. She didn't eat well, she hardly slept. She just stared off into the distance and cursed the world for all she was worth. Shirou had been one of the few people who she had ever let close to her… no, he had been the only person she had ever let get close to her. One of the rare, genuinely good people who were involved in the Moonlite world.
It was around this time that she came up with what she would later be embarrassed to call a plan.
She would use the Second True Magic to search the parallel worlds for one in which Shirou was still alive and they were together. Then she would go to that world… and she would kill and replace herself.
It was a plan so stupid that Archer would probably laugh at her for even considering it. Being present when a parallel version of yourself died caused huge backlash on your soul through the resonance between two like souls. Killing oneself with your own hands would likely destroy your soul entirely. That had been Archer's own goal after all. But she hadn't really been thinking things through.
She would have done it too, if Ruby hadn't realized what she had been planning and tattled on her to Zelretch. The old vampire went and put a stop to Rin's plan before she could kill herself in more ways than one.
Rin had exploded at him, throwing everything she had at the undead bastard. She had made a god honest attempt to kill him and erase him from existence, but Zelretch didn't fight back. He just waited and watched until she released the last of her pent-up sorrow and had reduced herself into a crying mess. She was kindly asked to move her workshop away from the Clocktower afterwards due to all the damage she caused, though they didn't have the balls to try to bill her for it.
After that, Rin started to adjust a bit better. She decided that if Shirou wasn't around to help save the day, then she would just have to find a way to protect humanity herself, and in doing so, carry on his memory.
While Rin was looking back over her notice, trying to find a better way for spreading the contained bounded field into its environment, a loud knock sounded at the door. "Go away." Rin shouted, not bothering to get up. She wasn't exactly in the mood for company, but the banging just kept going.
"Maybe you should just answer it." Ruby said as the Kaleidostick flouted around above Rin's head. "It might be important."
"There can't possibly be anything more important than this research." Rin told the overpowered child's toy. Ruby was quiet for a few moments before speaking up again.
"What is it now?"
"They are dismantling your barriers."
"WHAT!?" Rin shouted, checking on the bounded fields that protected her workshop from being breached. Sure enough, three of the twelve layers of her defenses had already been compromised. Even as she tried to active one of them to repulse the intruder, it disappeared before she could make proper use of it. Formulas that should have taken days to crack were being torn to pieces.
There were only a few people in the world who had the kind of skill in formula craft needed to do something like this… "Waver." Rin growled as she got up and went for the door, throwing it open and blasting the man square in the chest with a curse, sending him flying backwards ten feet.
"Owe." Waver gasped as he pushed himself up and rubbed at the spot on his chest were the spell had hit him. "That really hurt."
"Where do you get off coming here unannounced and taking apart my barriers!?" Rin snapped at him. "You should be glad I don't kill you right now!"
Waver was a highly skilled magus. However, in a match of power, Rin was stomp him into the ground. He should have known better than to mess with her, but for some reason the guy didn't ever seem to care about pissing people off.
"How am I supposed to come announced when there isn't any way to get into contact with you. You know how long it took me to even find this place?" Waver complained. "Besides, I did knock. You should have just answered the bloody door."
"What do you want?" Rin asked the man, not acknowledging his points.
"I got good news. And before I even tell it to you am going to just say that I am completely serious and that I would never make this shit up." Waver said, looking Rin dead in the eyes. "Emiya's back."
"…What?" Rin's anger melted away and her voice was barely above a whisper.
"He died those sixteen years ago, but his soul has come back. Right now, he is in Japan, suck in a sort of kind of Grail War while being a sort of kind of Servant." Waver said, pulling out his phone. A wide smirk spread across his face. "He called me last night… and I got pictures." He flicked his fingers across the phone's screen before handing it over to Rin herself. "He's supposed to call again tonight. Keep the phone. I'll get myself a new one."
Rin looked down at the picture to see the embarrassed face of a young girl staring back at her. "She's adorable!" Ruby squealed from over Rin's shoulder. "I can sense the appearance of a new MAGICAL GIRL!"
"He's back." Rin said, still in a bit of shock. But her shock was quickly replaced with rage. "…I'm going to fucking kill him!"
A quick second chapter since some people were getting anal about that the last one was basically filler. I would argue that it was still important because it was establishing a friendship between Kuruse and the twins, but that's just me.
No what I say about Zelretch isn't canon, nor do I really care. It's just that if you have a world ending threat going around and you have a guy with infinite power and infinite knowledge, who really likes humanity, than you have to ask yourself why the world is coming to an end. It's like for the Avengers movie and Dr Strange. Why didn't he just fix everything with his magical time travel stone before everyone got their shit pushed in? My solution being that he is simply not allowed to directly help them by his own nature. It also gives a good excuse for him acting odd, other than simply that living for ten thousand years probably does things to a man's sanity.
Actually, if I say something that isn't canon, I don't really care. You can tell me, but I'm unlikely to even bother editing it if it was unimportant, and if I based story elements on wrong assumptions about the canon then you can be damn sure I will just ignore it and continue on with the story. Fate just has too my canon to it to be bothered with the details when only one or two people out of ten thousand even notice.